Facebook Journalism Project - COVID-19 Reporting

Facebook Journalism Project - COVID-19 Reporting

STANDING TOGETHER AGAINST RACISM IN SANTEE

By Henri Migala

Protesters outside Santee Town Center

June 6, 2020 (Santee) -- I received a call Saturday, June 6 advising that people protesting police brutality in the wake of the death of Mr. George Floyd were demonstrating in front of the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility in Santee in vehicles.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST AMAURIE JOHNSON AFTER BODY CAM VIDEO FAILS TO BACK LMPD OFFICER’S ACCOUNT

By Kendra Sitton and Miriam Raftery

Photo: Amaurie Johnson, courtesy of Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Warning: videos contain strong language

June 6, 2020 (La Mesa) The La Mesa Police Department has dropped charges against Amaurie Johnson, a black man whose controversial arrest was captured in a viral video last week.  Demostrations last Saturday at the LMPD headquarters protested the arrest of Johnson as well as the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

 La Mesa Chief of Police Walt Vasquez announced yesterday that "after a full review of all of the evidence in the criminal investigation" against Johnson, the police department will not seek prosecution "on any of the alleged misdemeanor charges."

The announcement follows release of body cam footage released June 3 showing the interactions between Johnson, 23, and La Mesa Police Officer Matt Dages near the Grossmont Trolley Station on Wednesday, May 27.  That footage does not support the officer’s version of events but does show Dages pushing Johnson and grabbing his shirt.

Johnson had been arrested for assaulting an officer and resisting arrest, which he denied.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

REBUILD LA MESA: GO FUND ME ACCOUNT RAISES MORE THAN $160,000

 

Update June 18, 2020:  The fund has now raised over $196,000 and has begun distributing funds, but donations are still needed.

By Miriam Raftery

June 6, 2020 (La Mesa) – After riots devastated downtown La Mesa on May 30th, El Cajon Deputy Mayor Phil Ortiz teamed up with the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce Foundation and others to establish the La Mesa Business Disaster Recovery Fund.  The fund raised $50,000 in its first 13 hours last Sunday and has now surpassed $168,000 from more than 2,000 donors.

You can make a 100% tax deductible donation on GoFundMe by clicking here. 

The site states, “Our small businesses are devastated and many were already on the brink due to COVID19. La Mesa Village has been the heart of small business in the city and is a beautiful place for dining, events and memories.”


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

CONFRONTATIONS HEIGHTEN RACIAL TENSIONS IN SANTEE

Threats on social media prompt preparations for potential clashes tonight or this weekend

By Miriam Raftery; ECM journalists and photographers Rebecca Jefferis Williamson, Henri Migala and Paul Kruze contributed to this report.

Photo, left by Henri Migala: Sheriff's officers cleared those on both sides of a contentious protest Monday night in Santee


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LA MESA LEADERS ADDRESS UNREST, PROMISE REVIEW, END OF POLICE CHOKEHOLD AT PRESS CONFERENCE

Lack of answers stokes activists’ anger after violent arrest, injured woman at protest

By Kendra Sitton

Photo,left by Kendra Sitton: La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez

June 5, 1010 (La Mesa) – At a press conference held Wednesday, La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis, Chief of Police Walt Vasquez and other officials provided more information on the protests and riots that engulfed the city last Saturday. Officials also revealed more details about two recent controversial police incidents in La Mesa, although not enough to satisfy the citizens involved and their families.


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AFTER BURNING, BANKS’ SERVICE IMPACTED BY BRANCH CLOSURES; UNION BANK PLEDGES TO REBUILD

 

By Kendra Sitton

Paul Kruze also contributed to this report

Photo, left by Jake Rose:  Chase bank collapses as arson fire engulfs downtown La Mesa branch

June 4, 2020 (La Mesa) -- “Crazy people burned down my bank!” a customer explained to the teller at a Chase branch on Grossmont Ave. early Monday, June 1.

Branches of Chase Bank and Union Bank were both burned to the ground after protests turned fiery late Saturday night. Despite riot police and other reinforcements from the San Diego Sheriff's department, La Mesa Police and Heartland Fire were overwhelmed as rioters overran the citywreaking havoc that slowed responses.


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PHOTOGRAPHER HIT BY PEPPER SPRAY SHARES FRONT-LINE EXPERIENCE COVERING PROTEST IN LA MESA

 

Hear our interview with Henri Migala, aired on KNSJ radio: click here

By Henri Migala

June 4, 2020 (La Mesa, CA) -- My daughter, Rachel, a selfless and dedicated social justice advocate, told me about a demonstration in La Mesa Saturday afternoon in response to the death of George Floyd. I’ve been a responsible citizen for the past several months, self-quarantining at home in response to the COVIS-19 pandemic. But like many around the world, I was outraged by the senseless death of Floyd under the knee of a Minnesota police officer.  

I wanted to support the minority community by documenting this historic occasion as a photographer and as a social scientist. So I grabbed my camera and headed for the protest, never imagining the chain of events that would soon engulf the community and put La Mesa into the national news spotlight.

Audio: 


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

FBI SEEKS INFORMATION ON PEOPLE INCITING VIOLENCE DURING PROTESTS AND COMMITTING VIOLENT ACTS AMID CIVIL UNREST

Witnesses are urged to send tips, photos, videos and surveillance footage to the FBI

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left, by Jake Rose:  Bystanders shoot video as Randall Lamb engineering firm's offices in a historical structure burns

June 4, 2020 (La Mesa) – The FBI is asking for the public’s help to identify and arrest violent instigators and those who committed crimes such as arson and looting in the wake of protests across the nation. This includes La Mesa, where violence erupted after Saturday’s protests including burning two banks, vehicles and a historic building as well as vandalism and looting at dozens of local businesses.

Many photos and videos showing crimes in progress during the chaos locally have been posted on social media sites, including some aired by local media organizations.  Many of those contain images that may provide evidence of one or multiple crimes, when compared to other sources of documentation such as surveillance footage taken of looters during the pillaging and burning of local stores and financial institutions.

“The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution is dual and simultaneous, not contradictory,” a press released issued by the national FBI in Washington D.C. states.  “Accordingly, we are committed to apprehending and charging violent instigators who are exploiting legitimate, peaceful protests and engaging in violations of federal law.”


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

CALIFORNIA NATIONAL GUARD DEPLOYED IN DOWNTOWN LA MESA

 

Conflicting Information About Action Causes Media Confusion

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson:  National Guard patrols La Mesa's downtown village

 

 

June 4, 2020 (La Mesa) -- At the request of San Diego County Sheriff William D. Gore, the California National Guard has been deployed to downtown La Mesa to support law enforcement there as protests continue calling for racial justice and police reform.

Confusion and misinformation prevailed Wednesday night, however, when East County Magazine received conflicting information from various normally reliable sources as to whether or not the California National Guard had been deployed at the La Mesa City Center in the aftermath of the devastating destruction that took place on Monday night.

According to a Tweet on the San Diego Union Tribune’s Twitter account, the California National Guard public affairs officer originally told the newspaper’s reporter Alex Riggins that the National Guard had not been requested to deploy to La Mesa, but later called back to apologize that he had been incorrect in his statement.


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ATTORNEY CALLS FOR “JUSTICE” FOR GRANDMOTHER SHOT IN FOREHEAD WITH PROJECTILE DURING PROTEST AT LA MESA POLICE STATION

Warning:  contains graphic image
 
By Miriam Raftery, Rebecca Jefferis Williamson and Henri Migala
 
View ECM video of press conference: blob:https://www.facebook.com/e539b59a-58f0-45aa-b5ba-a657a7a608eb
 
June 2, 2020 (La Mesa) – Leslie Furcron, 59, a La Mesa resident and grandmother shot in the forehead with a projectile Saturday night during the George Floyd protest at La Mesa Police headquarters, is now in a medically induced coma and may lose an eye, according to her attorney, Dante T. Pride.  

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HUNDREDS AT BALBOA PARK PROTEST STRIVE TO KEEP THE PEACE

 
Article and Photos by Briana Gomez
 
 
June 2, 2020 (San Diego) – A crowd of about 300 people assembled at Balboa Park yesterday afternoon to peacefully protest.  Protesters laid on the grass, chanting “I can’t breathe” and “George Floyd,” referencing the brutal killing by a white police officer of a black man in Minneapolis that has sparked nationwide protests and civil unrest.
 
After four to five hours of peaceful protests, organizers and supporters took the megaphone and spoke to crowds about the importance of gathering in unity. Most of the speakers were Hispanic; one stated, “We want to hear black voices, too.”
 
Mary Stokedly said she wants to use her privilege to help others even if she has to go to the front line and stand in front of cops. “I want to use my privilege in any way that I can even if I need to go in the front, humble myself, serve, and listen” Stokedly, who is white, stated.  “This has been a huge issue for a very long time and the opportunity to come out and protest recently has been very beautiful.”

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AFTERMATH OF LA MESA PROTESTS AND RIOT LEAVES RESIDENTS AND PROTESTERS WONDERING WHO IS TO BLAME

Update: La Mesa curfew extended 7pm 6/2 until 5:30am 6/3
 
By Briana Gomez
 
ECM Editor Miriam Raftery contributed to this report
 
June 2, 2020 (La Mesa) -- The day after the fiery riot following a La Mesa protest left the city in shambles, many citizens were suspicious about who really incited the rioting, looting and arson.

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STORES CLOSE DOWN, BARRICADE DOORS & BOARD UP WINDOWS TO PREPARE FOR PROTESTERS

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)

(Photo at left - Walmart at Lemon Grove's College Grove Center)

May 31, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- The “We are open” and “reopened” signs announcing businesses were open after COVID-19 closures were nowhere in sight for some establishments across the East County late this afternoon. Stores closed early, in part due to curfews, or closed for the day in preparation for potential destructive actions by rioters and looters following protests of George Floyd’s death by police officers in Minneapolis.

Walmart Stores at College Grove Center, Santee, and at Parkway Plaza were closed late this afternoon. The College Grove Center location was in the process of boarding up and setting up barricades to lessen the chance of protesters breaking in. Sam's Club was closed for an unspecified time.

The Santee Walmart had red mulch bags stacked up in rows covering the main entry way. According to staff on site they will reopen at 8 a.m. on June 1.

Some La Mesa store fronts near the La Mesa Police Department, where protests turned violent, were boarded up.

Window fronts with glass were replaced with plywood and barricades of various materials in front of entries were common sights on May 31 around east county.

(Photo at right: Santee Walmart) 


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SAVING LA MESA: RESIDENTS RALLIED TO PROTECT AND RESTORE CITY

By Miriam Raftery and Kendra Sitton

A Rebuild La Mesa fund has been set up by Phil Ortiz and the East County Chamber of Commerce to  help businesses damaged or destroyed by the riots. You can donate here.

May 31, 2020 (La Mesa) -- With the acrid stench of burning rubble and tear gas still pungent in the air after a night of rioting, looting and destruction, a different kind of mob descended on La Mesa  today. Some 500 to 600 volunteers came armed with brooms, power tools and paint brushes to clean up debris and broken glass, paint over graffiti and board up storefront windows to help protect local businesses if looters return tonight.

Stories of heroism also emerged – business owners, neighbors and strangers who came during the night to drive out looters with baseball bats and makeshift clubs, douse spot fires with fire extinguishers, and help save La Mesa’s historic downtown village.


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NIGHT OF TERROR IN LA MESA

 

Protest dissolves into chaos as rioters burn down Chase and Union banks, loot retail stores and attack La Mesa Police headquarters

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor; Miriam Raftery and Rebecca Jefferis Williamson also contributed to this report

Photo, left: screenshot via ECM news partner NBC 7 shows Chase and Union Banks in flames at the heart of La Mesa's downtown village

May 31, 2020 (La Mesa) -- The cozy bedroom community of La Mesa, long likened to the fictious Mayberry RFD town of TV fame, lost its innocence on Saturday night when rioters  overran the city. Multiple arson fires and widespread looting swiftly overwhelmed local police and firefighters after protests over police violence earlier in the day. Mutual aid proved inadequate, leaving La Mesa without adequate resources to defend the city.


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SILENT PROTEST HELD AT EL CAJON HOME OF LMPD OFFICER IN CONTROVERSIAL STOP

Story and photos by Kendra Sitton

May 30, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Around 100 protesters silently walked through an El Cajon neighborhood where organizers said La Mesa Police Officer Matt Dages lives. The group conducted a “Power Walk” this evening to let the officer know he is not invisible, according to organizer Covu.

East County Magazine could not independently verify that Dages lives at the residence.


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PROTEST AGAINST POLICE VIOLENCE TURNS FIERY IN LA MESA

Update May 31, 2020: 1:15 a.m.  A curfew has been issued starting at 1:30 a.m. by the City Manager.  Shortly before midnight, Union Bank and Chase Bank in downtown La Mesa were burned. The Randall Lamb architectural firm is also on fire. More stores have been looted, including Walmart and Target at Grossmont Center and shops in the La Mesa Springs shopping center.

Emergency vehicles in flames; protesters tear gassed after armored vehicle hit with rocks and bottles

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Briana Gomez, Miriam Raftery and Rebecca Jefferis Williamson also contributed to this story

Photo, left by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson: Vehicle burning in La Mesa

Photo, right by Brianna Gomez:  Protestor outside La Mesa Police station

May 30, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Multiple vehicles at La Mesa's Civic Center are in flames tonight, with looting of businesses across the downtown area.The chaos comes after several thousand  mostly peaceful demonstrators converged outside the La Mesa Police Department headquarters this afternoon to protest the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. The protesters also demonstrated over an incident earlier this week in La Mesa when a man was detained near the Grossmont Transit Center.

In that incident, suspect Amaurie Johnson was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer. Video on social media shows the Amaurie and the officer arguing when the officer pushes Johnson into a seated position. The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. The city has also announced plans for an independent investigation. 

The protest  later resulted in confrontations that resulted in tear-gassing of some protesters and declaration of an unlawful assembly. 


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PROTESTERS CALL ON MAYOR FAULCONER TO BAN CHOKEHOLDS BY POLICE

Story and photos by Briana Gomez

The Racial Justice Coalition, in collaboration with the #icantbreathecampaign led a peaceful motorcade protest with many other organizations including the Black Panthers to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s home Saturday morning. The caravan followed the police brutality incident in Minnesota caught on video, in which George Floyd, an African-American man, was killed by a white officer who applied a controversial chokehold for over eight minutes, despite Floyd pleading “I can’t breathe.” The officer has been charged with murder. Three other officers present have been fired,  but have thus far not been charged.  

“This event is in response to the event in Minneapolis with George Floyd, but not only that. We’ve been fighting the neck restraint in San Diego since 2017,” Yusef Miller, one of the event organizers and a community activist, told ECM.

There have been numerous incidents of police choking people in San Diego and Orange County.


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REV. SHANE HARRIS BRINGS SUPPORT TO FAMILY OF GEORGE FLOYD IN MINNEAPOLIS AND FIGHTS FOR REFORMS TO HALT POLICE KILLINGS

“The arrest of George Floyd should not have been a death sentence. What you saw when you looked at the video of the killing was a policeman who was the judge, the jury, and the executioner.” – Rev. Shane Harris, People’s Alliance for Justice, in an exclusive interview with ECM

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of Rev. Shane Harris, shown on Hennepin Bridge in Minneapolis

May 30, 2020 (San Diego) -- The brutal killing of George Floyd, an African-American man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis has sparked protests and civil unrest nationwide. The Washington Post has compiled video from multiple sources, documenting that after a store clerk alleged Floyd used counterfeit payment at a store, Officer Derek Chauvin handcuffed Floyd and later knelt on his neck for over eight minutes, ignoring gasps of “I can’t breathe!” Three other officers failed to intervene.

Four nights of protests  in Minnesota ensued, including rioting and burning a police station.  Minnesota’s Governor has called in the National Guard, declaring that most protesters are outside agitators. Officer Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter; all four officers were fired. But many believe more must be done for justice to be served.

Reverend Shane Harris, a national civil rights leader and founder of the People’s Alliance for Justice (PAJ) based in San Diego, flew to Minneapolis on Friday and provided an exclusive phone interview to ECM on Friday night.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

PLASMA FROM RECOVERED COVID-19 PATIENTS NEEDED TO TREAT OTHERS LOCALLY

Source: By Miriam Raftery

Photo: CC by NA - SC

May 29, 2020 (San Diego) -- The San Diego Blood Bank is partnering with the County to encourage San Diegans who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma, the liquid part of blood which contains antibodies. This plasma could help treat people who are hospitalized or seriously ill from the novel coronavirus.

While currently there is no vaccine or proven treatment for COVID-19, “convalescent plasma may help patients fighting the virus because the plasma has antibodies against it,” the County’s top health official announced yesterday.

“This partnership helps us to achieve one of the indicators at the federal level for treatment of COVID-19,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “We’re very excited about this partnership.”


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WHY ARE LATINOS DISPROPORTIONATELY IMPACTED BY COVID-19 IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY?

By Briana Gomez

Photo, left: Briana Gomez and her daughter, Aya, with masks from Chicanista Boutique, a Chicana-owned San Diego business

May 28, 2020 (San Diego) -- COVID-19 has plagued millions globally, hitting San Diego at over 5,000 cases according to recent CDC data. The virus has disproportionately impacted San Diego County’s Latino population.

According to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, 60 percent of COVID-19 positive tests in San Diego County are among Hispanic or Latinos. Equally troubling, CBS 8 reports that 41.1% of deaths locally are among Latinos.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

SANTEE LOVES: RESIDENTS RALLY IN VEHICLES TO STAND AGAINST HATE

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)

May 27, 2020 (Santee) -- A Santee community group known as Santee Loves organized “Demonstrate Love,” a vehicle rally held today to counter the two racially charged incidents at a Santee Vons store on May 2 and at  Food 4 Less five days later. 

(Left: a participant standing next to his car.)

Those incidents, which went viral on social media and made international headlines, involved a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood and a couple, who live in unincorporated El Cajon, with Nazi swastikas on their COVID-19 face masks. 

The vehicle rally was designed to promote tolerance and inclusiveness. Though planned over the past two weeks, the event ironically occurred on the same night that national protests erupted over the brutal killing of George Floyd, an African-American man, by a Minneapolis police officer. 


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DOMESTIC ABUSE ADVOCATES SEE RISE IN FIRST-TIME VICTIMS

By Kendra Sitton

 

“The quarantine has created a lot of problems…A safety plan is no longer available [for some victims].” – Dilkhwaz Ahmed, License to Freedom

 

May 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) — After weeks of stay-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, two local organizations supporting victims of domestic abuse are seeing a sharp rise in people seeking services for the first time. 


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

BAD HAIR DAYS ARE OVER: COUNTY AND STATE APPROVE REOPENING OF BARBER SHOPS AND HAIR SALONS

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Photo by Miriam Raftery

May 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) --Today in a televised update on COVID-19, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that hair salons and barbershops in most counties will now be able to reopen their doors. The businesses must meet the state’s reopening guidelines .

 Late today, San Diego County approved allowing local salons and barbershops to reopen as soon as they implement and post a safe reopening plan. 

Supervisor Dianne Jacob called the Governor’s action “another welcome step in getting our businesses back into business."

The order does not apply to nail salons, however, and certain close-contact services remain prohibited including facials, shaves, eyebrow waxing and threading, and eyelash treatments.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

UNEMPLOYMENT HITS 30.1% COUNTYWIDE; HIGH RATES IN SEVERAL EAST COUNTY COMMUNITIES

Nationwide, unemployment rate is 14.7% -- worse than during  the Great Depression -- and San Diego has double the national rate.

By Miriam Raftery

May 24, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – An Employment Analysis by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) shows unemployment countywide is at 30.1%, an all-time high.  Of the more than half million (510,000) unemployed residents, nearly 460,000 lost their jobs after the COVID-19 pandemic began March 7.

That’s far higher than the national average of 14.7% -- and with 39 million Americans out of work as of last week according to the Department of Labor, the national unemployment rate is now the highest it’s ever been, even worse than during the Great Depression.

 


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

RESIDENTS, HEALTHCARE GROUPS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS REACT TO RESTAURANT AND RETAIL REOPENINGS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: On Friday, Sheldon's Station in La Mesa prepared for reopening with new socially distanced tables. The owner told ECM  that despite offering curbside pickup, he's lost approximately 60% of his business since the shutdown began in mid-March and has not received any federal aid, for which he applied.

May 24, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On social media, East County residents shared reactions to decisions by state and county officials allowing restaurants to reopen for dine-in service and retailers to allow customers inside stores after a two-month closure due to the  COVID-19 pandemic.

While some voiced joy at savoring a meal out, other expressed trepidation.  Local healthcare officials, politicians and activists have also weighed in with their views on the easing up of restrictions.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

REV. SHANE PROTESTS CUTS TO LIBRARY FUNDING ON BIRTHDAY OF MALCOLM X

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Brian Goodin: Rev. Shane Harris, outside Malcolm X Library, speaks out to protect library funding

May 23, 2020 (San Diego) – Civil rights leader Rev. Shane Harris with the People’s Alliance for Justice held a press conference to protest library budget cuts at the Malcolm X Library in San Diego on May 20th, birthday of the slain human rights leader for whom the library is named.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

EL CAJON APPROVES RENT AND UTILITY ASSISTANCE: FUNDS LIMITED TO FIRST 150 APPLICANTS STARTING MAY 26

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

May 22, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon City Council has approved allocating over $800,000 of its Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus funds for several COVID response programs.  These funds were granted to the City as part of the federal CARES Act.

Per City Council direction, a large portion of the funds will be used for rental and utility assistance to help those most vulnerable to loss of employment.

Due to limited funding, there is a limit to the first 150 eligible applicants. Online and over the phone applications will be accepted through the following service providers beginning Tuesday,May 26, 2020:


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

CASINO PAUMA TO REMAIN TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR SAFETY OF ITS GUESTS, COMMUNITY AND EMPLOYEES

East County News Service

May 22, 2020 (Pauma Valley) – Bucking the trend of several local casinos that reopened this week or have announced upcoming reopening dates, Casino Pauma on Wednesday announced that it will remain closed indefinitely, choosing to following the advice of Governor Gavin Newsom and health officials to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

VIEJAS CASINO REOPENING BALANCES ECONOMIC NEED AND PUBLIC SAFETY

By Helen Horvath

Photo, left:  Worker sanitize chips, cards and table with UV lighting; screenshot from Viejas video

On May 18, 2020, the Viejas tribe took the bold leadership step of reopening Viejas Casino & Resort in collaboration with other tribal nations in San Diego in advance of the Stage 3 opening recommended by California’s Governor Gavin Newsom.

 ECM visited the casino on opening day, speaking with employees, guests and a union official about their experiences and the many changes in place due to COVID-19.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

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